Pocketful of Miracles (1961)

132 or 136 mins | Comedy | 25 December 1961

Director:

Frank Capra

Producer:

Frank Capra

Cinematographer:

Robert Bronner

Editor:

Frank P. Keller

Production Designers:

Hal Pereira, Roland Anderson

Production Company:

Franton Productions
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HISTORY

Although copyright records list the color process as Eastman color, HR lists it as Consolidated Color and FD lists it as Technicolor.
       Pocketful of Miracles, Frank Capra's last feature film, was a remake of his 1933 Lady for a Day (see entry), starring Warren William and May Robson. It was the first and only film to be produced by Franton Productions, an independent company co-owned by Frank Capra Productions and Glenn Ford's Newton Productions. A modern source notes that Abe Lastfogel of the William Morris Agency was brought in to settle any disputes that might arise between the two producers, who had equal votes in all matters concerning the picture. As mentioned in his autobiography, Capra disliked this arrangement, which, he believed, gave Lastfogel the power of executive producer. Capra also expressed his displeasure with the United Artists decision to release the picture with saturation booking in some 200 cities across the country, without first putting it into a first-run engagement in either Los Angeles, CA, or New York City. However, Capra's recollection of the film's opening was not completely correct. While the film did open on Christmas Day in Los Angeles with saturation booking, the film had a conventional opening in New York, playing at the Victoria and Trans-Lux 52nd Street theaters only.
       Pre-release news items indicate that James Cannon, a sports writer whose writing talent was discovered by Damon Runyon, was signed to write the dialogue for the film. According to Capra's autobiography, Cannon did not get a writing credit because of a WGA rule at the time that allowed only two writing ... More Less

Although copyright records list the color process as Eastman color, HR lists it as Consolidated Color and FD lists it as Technicolor.
       Pocketful of Miracles, Frank Capra's last feature film, was a remake of his 1933 Lady for a Day (see entry), starring Warren William and May Robson. It was the first and only film to be produced by Franton Productions, an independent company co-owned by Frank Capra Productions and Glenn Ford's Newton Productions. A modern source notes that Abe Lastfogel of the William Morris Agency was brought in to settle any disputes that might arise between the two producers, who had equal votes in all matters concerning the picture. As mentioned in his autobiography, Capra disliked this arrangement, which, he believed, gave Lastfogel the power of executive producer. Capra also expressed his displeasure with the United Artists decision to release the picture with saturation booking in some 200 cities across the country, without first putting it into a first-run engagement in either Los Angeles, CA, or New York City. However, Capra's recollection of the film's opening was not completely correct. While the film did open on Christmas Day in Los Angeles with saturation booking, the film had a conventional opening in New York, playing at the Victoria and Trans-Lux 52nd Street theaters only.
       Pre-release news items indicate that James Cannon, a sports writer whose writing talent was discovered by Damon Runyon, was signed to write the dialogue for the film. According to Capra's autobiography, Cannon did not get a writing credit because of a WGA rule at the time that allowed only two writing credits per screenplay.
       In an Apr 1960 NYT interview, Capra mentioned that he wanted either Helen Hayes or Shirley Booth for the role of "Apple Annie," and according to subsequent news items in HR, Hayes made a verbal agreement to play the role in Jun 1960. According to his autobiography, Capra had also sought Shirley Jones for the role of "Queenie." News items also note that Capra sought Tony Franciosa for an unspecified "starring role," and that Edward G. Robinson, Charles Laughton, Fredric March and Burl Ives were all in the running for the role of "Judge Henry Blake," which was later assigned to Jack Oakie. When Oakie became ill with a lingering intestinal virus, he was replaced by Thomas Mitchell and his scenes were reshot. Contemporary sources also note that the film, which would cost an estimated $2.5-3 million dollars to produce, marked the screen debut of Ann-Margret, who had been previously set to make her debut in State Fair , a film delayed until 1962. According to a contemporary interview with actress Hope Lange, costumes from Paramount's 1920s and 1930s wardrobe department were deemed too daring for modern censors.
       A week before Pocketful of Miracles had its Los Angeles release, LAT ran ads featuring Richard Nixon endorsing the film.
       Peter Falk received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his role in the picture, which also received a nomination for Best Costume Design (color) and for its title song for Best Song. According to modern sources, Capra wrote the special lyrics for "The Riddle Song," which Ann-Margret sang without musical accompaniment in the film.        Modern sources list Frank Capra, Jr. and Ralph Axness as additional assistant directors. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Film Daily
2 Nov 61
p. 6.
New York Times
19 Dec 62
p. 39.
Time
29 Dec 61
p. 57.
Variety
1 Nov 61
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Assoc prod
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
COSTUMES
Cost
Men's cost
MUSIC
Mus scored & cond
Orch
VISUAL EFFECTS
MAKEUP
Makeup supv
Hair style supv
PRODUCTION MISC
Unit prod mgr
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the short story "Madame la Gimp" by Damon Runyon in Cosmopolitan (Oct 1929) and the film Lady for a Day written by Robert Riskin (Columbia, 1933).
SONGS
"Pocketful of Miracles" music by James Van Heusen, lyrics by Sammy Cahn
"The Riddle Song," traditional.
DETAILS
Release Date:
25 December 1961
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 18 December 1961
Production Date:
20 April--mid June 1961
Copyright Claimant:
Franton Productions
Copyright Date:
18 December 1961
Copyright Number:
LP21109
Physical Properties:
Sound
Westrex Recording System
Color
Technicolor
Widescreen/ratio
Panavision
Duration(in mins):
132 or 136
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
20029
SYNOPSIS

In 1930 New York, shortly after debt-ridden nightclub owner Rudy Martin dies, his daughter Elizabeth, whom he called "Queenie," shows up to hand the deed to his club to kindhearted bootlegger Dave the Dude. Attracted to Queenie, the Dude decides to help her turn the club into a popular speakeasy, and two years later she has paid off all of her father's debts. Everything is going right for the Dude, who thinks that his luck comes from his daily purchase of an apple from "Apple Annie," a disheveled old apple vendor who leads the Broadway panhandlers. He is about to make a deal with Chicago gangster Steve Darcey, and Queenie has agreed to marry him. Just as the Dude is about to close his deal with Darcey, however, his boys are unable to find Annie. Panicky that he won't have the luck he needs for pulling off the Darcey deal, the Dude learns where Annie is from a group of panhandlers who visit his apartment. They tell him that Annie has been supporting a daughter who has been living in a Spanish convent for years and that all of the extra money she has squeezed from them has gone to the girl. In an elaborate deception, Annie has been sending and receiving letters from the girl, named Louise, at the swank Marberry Hotel. When the hotel employee who had been Annie's contact was fired for apparently "stealing" one of the letters, Annie went boldly in and retreived it herself, only to discover that it announced Louise's imminent marriage and arrival in New York with her fianceé and his father, a Spanish count. ... +


In 1930 New York, shortly after debt-ridden nightclub owner Rudy Martin dies, his daughter Elizabeth, whom he called "Queenie," shows up to hand the deed to his club to kindhearted bootlegger Dave the Dude. Attracted to Queenie, the Dude decides to help her turn the club into a popular speakeasy, and two years later she has paid off all of her father's debts. Everything is going right for the Dude, who thinks that his luck comes from his daily purchase of an apple from "Apple Annie," a disheveled old apple vendor who leads the Broadway panhandlers. He is about to make a deal with Chicago gangster Steve Darcey, and Queenie has agreed to marry him. Just as the Dude is about to close his deal with Darcey, however, his boys are unable to find Annie. Panicky that he won't have the luck he needs for pulling off the Darcey deal, the Dude learns where Annie is from a group of panhandlers who visit his apartment. They tell him that Annie has been supporting a daughter who has been living in a Spanish convent for years and that all of the extra money she has squeezed from them has gone to the girl. In an elaborate deception, Annie has been sending and receiving letters from the girl, named Louise, at the swank Marberry Hotel. When the hotel employee who had been Annie's contact was fired for apparently "stealing" one of the letters, Annie went boldly in and retreived it herself, only to discover that it announced Louise's imminent marriage and arrival in New York with her fianceé and his father, a Spanish count. When the Dude visits Annie, accompanied by Queenie, who has decided to leave the Dude and marry someone else if he closes the Darcey deal, she drunkenly confirms what has happened. Although he is sympathetic, he leaves with his apple, but after the panhandlers offer their meagre savings to finance a real stay for Annie at the Marberry and Queenie goads him into rethinking the matter, the Dude agrees to help. Using a rich friend's appartment at the Marberry, and with the aid of the kindly butler Hutching, the Dude installs Annie as a tenant. With Queenie's help, and that of several hairdressers, makeup artisits and clothiers, Annie is transformed into her elegant society alter ego, Mrs. E Worthington Manville. To complete the picture, Judge Henry Blake, a silver-throated pool hustler, is brought in to play her husband. When the boat arrives that night, the transformed Annie greets Louise, her fiancé Carlos and his father, Count Romero. Reporters on the dock are suspicious when they see the Dude and his gang there and try to get a story, but the Dude's boys Junior and Joy Boy arrange to have the reporters taken away. For the next several days, while the boys try to keep Darcey occupied, Annie and Louise's reunion proceeds joyfully, while the Dude gets swept up in the fairy tale. Despite Joy Boy's constant nagging that Darcey will tire of waiting for a final meeting and turn violent, the Dude cools his heals. Meanwhile, newspaper stories about the missing reporters have surfaced, and the entire city is up-in-arms. From the beat cops to the chief of police, the mayor and even the governor, everyone is being criticized in the press for inaction. As the day of Louise and the Romero's departure approaches, the marriage seems a certainty until Count Romero insists on meeting some of Mrs. Worthington's society freinds. Realizing that the marriage will not go through without some kind of reception, the Dude and Judge Blake tutor his gang on gentlemanly repartee and manners, while Queenie teaches her chours girl freinds how to hehave like "ladies." After intensive coaching, the group seems ready for their debut as society substitutes at the planned reception, but just as they are about to leave Queenie's club, some panhandlers let the Dude know that the police, suspicious that the Dude is involved in the reporters' kidnapping, have surrounded them. As Annie waits in despair and the Count becomes increasingly suspicious because no one has come to the reception, the Dude is questioned by the police commisioner. Unable to explain the situation to the commissioner's satisfaction, the Dude then admits that he has the reporters and promises to kill them unless he is taken to the mayor. While the Dude is being taken to the mayor, who also is having a reception that night, Annie decides that she has no choice but to tell the count the truth. Just as she is about to reveal everything, however, the Dude arrives, accompanied by the mayor, the governor and all of the society guests from the mayor's New Year's Eve reception. As each person greets Annie, they pretend to know her well, which greatly impresses the count. After the reception, limousines drive everyone to the dock to see Louise and the Romeros off. With the reporters safe and no real crimes committed, state and city officials, as well as newspaper editors, decide that no one need ever know the truth. As Annie lovingly waves goodbye to Louise, the Dude tells Queenie that he is going to move to Maryland with her and forget about Darcey, and after the boat pulls away, Annie orders her panhandling friends to get back to work. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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